|By Wilder Penfield III
Slash has made his name as the lead gun with Guns N' Roses, who helped define a new generation gap.
But he was in town yesterday to hustle a side project, a band called Snakepit that is even more how-many-times-do-I-have-to-tell-you-to- TURN-THAT-DOWN! than GN'R is.
Coming Feb. 15, a debut album called It's Five O'Clock Somewhere is 14 tracks of sonic blister, written with claw-throated Eric Dover from Jellyfish, recorded and produced with GN'R jammers on the nights they were written, "very raw - if we liked it, it was finished." Except for guitar overdubs, of course.
"Axl was on a different trip, where he wanted to sound like Pearl Jam, last I heard," says Slash of front Gunner Axl Rose, "with keyboards, and heavy-duty epic videos. That was all really tedious for me, this kept me sane."
Snakepit, named after the studio that shares Slash's L.A. basement with 300 snakes, will bring their in-your-face music to dark places where they can see the whites of our eyes. They start touring April 1, with a Toronto date probable for May, carrying on until GN'R gears up for arenas this summer.
Slash hates it when I apply the word `retro' to Snakepit, but admits: "I don't have any influences since 1979."
Instead he has the broadest of roots. "I was born in '65, and my parents were total hippies. They've always been sort of laid-back and sort of like whatever ..."
Indeed! Slash's dad art-directed for the likes of Neil Young and canyon neighbor Joni Mitchell. His mom made clothes for the Pointer Sisters, Mick Ronson, Iggy Pop. "She used to go out with David Bowie for a couple of years; he was the first guy to replace my dad when my mom and dad separated.
"And when I was going through a really bad drug period, David was the guy who told me, `You're in a bad way. When you get so strung out you weaken yourself.' And I was sitting there going, `Yeah, right.' But at the same time, it helped me get clean."
He feels sorry for kids who missed out on sex and drugs when they were freer and easier.
"I feel like a dinosaur in this particular generation - still playing my Les Paul and watching computer-animated cartoons - I bought a computer for Renee and said, `Just don't bring it around me.' Whatever happened to the can and the string? ...
"I don't have any children. I'm not interested. I really wouldn't be into bringing a kid into this world at this point, the way things are, and I'm too ambitious to take the time.
"If one of the cats starts to grow up and all of a sudden doesn't give the baby reaction Renee was used to when it was a kitten, she gets really pissed off - like `Fffk you!, I raised you.'
"I can't imagine her raising another Slash."